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Advice on helping child become fluent in math (xpost)

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Any advice from veteran homeschoolers/after schoolers on helping a child to become fluent in math? Should I drill and kill with basic math facts? Do math daily? Manipulatives? Dice games? Curriculum?


My son is in 1st grade, and I really want him to get him off to the right start. He is in public school this year, and I am not sure about the quality of his math instruction. Your help is greatly appreciated.

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I would look for critical thinking math activities. Develop the math-thinking strategies. Math facts will only get you so far, as is the case with memorization. I have found that logic books are an asset too.

Begin working on word problems as well. I have found that solving strategies are essential and often not taught or enforced in the math class. I spent the last two years developing both areas in order for my daughter to continue in advanced math with ease.


We use MM's books to enforce and develop thinking strategies for problem solving as well as the MIRL books to make them applicable and real to life. I use Logic Countdown (3 books in all). We will begin the Fallacy Detective after the third book. I will supplement with Critical Thinking Co. books for various subject areas. I think that it is the how-to-think that makes math difficult. However, mastery of the concept is every bit as important. You cannot understand multiplication if you can't understand addition - let alone the idea of inverse operations. Build a good foundation for numeric sense and arithmetic operations as a whole.


My two cents ... HTH

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We love variety in our house. :D I love the abacus and place value cards from RightStart Math for any kind of learner, but especially visual learners. RightStart also has a book with math games ideas. I like Muggins board games. The simplest one is Jelly Beans. We also like to play War, but we often add in a story. We have played it with dice, but we also use some number cards that have pictures of animals, vehicles, people, and fruit. We make stories about how the winning side conquered the looser. The stories get wild and we laugh a lot. The math part is slower this way, but he loves it and the story telling helps with logic and narration. I also find books from the library with math stories. Loreen Leedy and Mitsumasa Anno have some good books. I have not tried Life of Fred yet, but I plan to get some next year or sooner, if our son seems ready. Our son is such a story teller that I try to choose things that will engage him on that level as well. He also LOVES Legos, so I try to comment casually on the numbers of dots on the Legos as we play or sort them or search for a particular piece.


One day we talked about a world without math and discovered that there would be no world! If there were no measurements, no volume, no length or distance, no counting, etc. all the things that he loves would have to be eliminated. It was just fun to see how very important math is to our very existence. Without math our world would be in chaos. When we drill, I try to make it seem to be a part of a story, so math has some purpose. Perhaps if there is a page of 12 problems then my son is the scribe for the king or Pharaoh. The people must bring in their taxes of sacks of grain. The first number is what each person brought in last time and now he must add the grain they have brought in today and report back to the Pharaoh. He would also need to tell who has brought in the most grain and who has brought in the least. This works better if a name is written above each problem. Afterwards we have a snack and eat up the fractions.


I try to mix things up enough that it will be exciting to see how we will work with numbers that day. Sometimes I do some basic, dry drill in the car on the way to school, but with my son, I am far better off making it dramatic in some way. (The invading aliens do no believe there is intelligent life on this planet, so they are testing him to see if humans can answer some questions. The fate of the world rests on his shoulders! Or We must find all the correct numbers to enter into the machine to stop the bomb that is set to go off in 10 minutes. We must first solve a bunch of "puzzles" to find out what numbers to use.) Life is quite exciting at our house! Math should be just as exciting!

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Yes, I would do a math activity each day with him, whether that is playing store, pricing the items in the store, counting change from spouse's pocket, playing memory, dividing up cookies or pizza or carrot sticks, setting the table, looking at the clock and determining if it's time for dinner yet, measuring ingredients or changing oil w/adult, or a board or card game or something from the above resources that is appropriate for his current skill level.


This is basically what we did with DD from the beginning. I didn't specifically set out to do a math activity each day, but every time I noticed an opportunity to use math with DD, I would do so. So, she helped with measuring anything that could be measured: coins for the parking meter, laundry soap for the washer, ingredients for a recipe, weighing produce at the grocey store, etc. Life also involves lots of sorting, combining, and dividing. We also noticed patterns everywhere, especially while driving, and eventually applied them to math facts (starting with 11's actually: 11,22,33,44, etc. is a fun pattern!). Once she needed to know math facts at school, we would practice them in the car on the way to school.


She is currently reading How Math Works, and part of her afterschooling plan for this year (3rd grade) is to keep a math journal as she works her way through the book.

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